Student declamations move audience

Eight brave students moved the King’s community with their vibrant speeches and personal reflections during last week’s Eighth Annual Declamation Competition, but it was Rakan Haddadin ’19, Zaid Al-Amarat ’19, Ruby Hawari ’18 and Rand Al-Harahsheh ’18 who were crowned the school champions.

The school-wide competition took place on April 19 in the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium, where after weeks of preparation and hard work, King’s students stepped up to the plate for another consecutive year to share their voices with their peers and teachers. The students presented an array of inspirational declamations that included topics ranging from Jordan’s public school education to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Similar to last year’s format, freshmen competed against sophomores and juniors competed against seniors – in both Arabic and English. Eight finalists – two from each grade level –confidently delivered their speeches in front of a panel of 12 judges comprising faculty, staff and students. Jordan's former minister of culture, Jeryis Samawi, headed the panel as guest judge for the event that aims to provide a platform for student voices, thought and expression.

In the younger students’ competition, Rakan Haddadin ’19 (English champion) blew the audience away with an emotional speech about losing dear friends and the importance of saying goodbye to your loved ones. “Hold the people close to you closer and cherish them because you never know when they might disappear,” he said.

Nedaa Awawdeh ’20 (English runner-up) spoke about people’s judgmental views on the hijab and expressed confidence in her personal choice to wear it.

Zaid Al-Amarat ’19 (Arabic champion) delivered a powerful address about the shortcomings of Jordan’s public school education that affects the majority of students in the kingdom. He concluded his speech by suggesting solutions to improve the education system.

Tala Salman ’20 (Arabic runner-up) spoke of the traumatic struggles of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and their impact on all generations of Palestinians.

In the upperclassman competition, Ruby Hawari ’18 (English champion) used imagery and word play beautifully during her address on how happiness manifests differently for each person.

“Everyone peels their bananas differently; happiness to you may not be happiness to me,” Hawari said. Tala Abdulqader ’17 (English runner-up), on the other hand, recalled the different fears she’s faced in her life and how she’s learned to overcome them.

Rand Al-Harahsheh’ 18 (Arabic champion) was fierce in her declamation about corruption and how it negatively affects people’s lives and increases the differences between different societal classes. Meanwhile, Saba Al Qubailat’ 17 (Arabic runner-up) spoke passionately about her experience as an exchange student at Deerfield Academy, which transformed her personality.

“The declamations are not only about the presentations performed in front of the whole school, they are also about what goes behind the scenes in terms of discussions and deliberations,” Faculty Member and event judge Rola Jaber said.

“This is all a reflection of what happens in both the Arabic and English classes as students feel empowered to express their opinions strongly and freely,” she added.